Cheryl Maguire, contributing writer


“How many miles are you cycling today?” The spin teacher shouted out the question to the class and then people yelled back, “18, 20, 21.” It’s important to create a goal of how many miles you will cycle so you can work toward your goal during the class. You will work out harder if you have a goal.

I’m a fitness fanatic, who works out on average six days a week. There is so much information out there about fitness and nutrition that sometimes I’m left wondering, who is correct? So, I asked two of my favorite instructors for their advice on the topic.

“You really are what you eat. You can work out all you want, but if you do not eat properly it will not matter,” Rosann Doherty, a 10-year veteran Pilates, and spin instructor and personal trainer/ nutritionist said. Rosann explains that the number one nutrition fact she offers people is, “What you look like is based 90% on what you eat.”

Aileen Marino, who taught step and kickboxing classes for six years, has a mantra for fitness and life in general: “Have fun!” She says, “Avoid using scales. People often become discouraged from exercising if their weight remains the same. A better indicator of your body size is how well your clothes fit you.”

Here are eight tips to help you reach your fitness potential:

Rosann stresses the importance of eating breakfast. “Eating breakfast jumpstarts your engine. Breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day. When you avoid breakfast, your body struggles for the rest of the day to make up for the lost meal.”

Both Rosann and Aileen agree drinking water helps to keep you hydrated, especially when exercising, and when you are hydrated you won’t overeat. “Your body requires 64 ounces of water per day. When you exercise you should drink 8 ounces for every 20 minutes of activity,” Rosann said. Often people mistake dehydration for hunger, which leads to unnecessary eating. People tend to drink more calories than they realize which leads to weight gain. “Water contains zero calories. It is important to note coffee and sugary drinks are diuretics. When you drink these drinks, you should also drink 8 ounces of water to replace the fluid you lost,” Rosann said.

In addition to drinking water, it is important to eat small meals every two to three hours. “Eating this often helps maintain your sugar levels at an even keel,” Rosann said. “Maintaining your sugar levels will sustain your metabolism and energy levels. You also will prevent overeating since you feel full.”

When you eat often, include healthy fats. “Often people avoid eating foods with fat since they think it will lead to weight gain,” Aileen said. “Eating healthy fats helps you to feel full and burns fat. Healthy fats can be found in nuts, fish, and olive/canola/flaxseed oil. When eating nuts, you should aim for two tablespoons per day.”

In relation to fitness, Rosann stresses the importance of interval and strength training. She explains that interval training is when you raise your heart rate for short periods of time during your cardiovascular workout. Strength training is when you use weights or some type of resistance during your workout. Both types of training help to strengthen your heart and lungs, which in turn causes you to burn more calories for several days after your workout,” Aileen said. She explains that when you work out at a steady aerobic pace without intervals you will burn fat during your workout only as opposed to several days of a higher caloric burn with interval and strength training. She adds, “When you are strength training you build muscles which then, in turn, burns fat. You also burn more fat than you would during anaerobic exercise.”

Aileen begins and ends all her classes with a minimum of five minutes of stretching. “It is important to stretch before and after working out to prevent injuries. Stretching also helps to increase your flexibility,” she said.

Aileen feels that you should avoid comparisons to other people. “Often people become frustrated when they compare their fitness level to other people. Everyone’s bodies are distinctive and respond differently to training,” she said.

“Whatever exercise routine you choose, it is important to have fun while doing it,” Aileen said. “You will make a commitment to exercise if you enjoy it.”